Jewish Leaders Meet with Japanese Envoy to Protest Against Policy Toward Israel

A delegation representing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met for a half-hour Friday with Japanese Ambassador Takeshi Yasyukawa to strongly protest the Japanese government’s announcement that it would “reconsider” its policy toward Israel unless Israel withdrew from all territories occupied in the 1967 war. Jacob Stein, Conference chairman who headed the delegation, told the Ambassador that “surrender to Arab blackmail would gravely injure not only Israel but the United States.” He reminded Yasyukawa that Japan’s economic growth and development during the post-war period was due in large measure to the friendship of the American government and its action in strengthening the Japanese economy.

“Today the U.S. and Japan are friendly trading partners,” Stein said. “However, by bowing to Arab pressure Japan encourages further Arab oil blackmail against the United States and undercuts the position of Secretary of State (Henry A.) Kissinger, who made it clear that our country would not be bludgeoned into changing its foreign policies by an Arab oil cutoff.” Stein said that “rather than threaten to break relations with Israel, Japan should join the U.S. and countries of Western Europe in formulating a program of strenuous counter-measures to the Arab oil boycott.” Any political capitulation “is likely to have little if any effect on insuring the continuing availability of petroleum for Japan,” he declared. “It would, however, seriously disturb the friendly economic and political relations between the U.S. and Japan and cause many Americans to adopt a new attitude toward the purchase of Japanese goods.”

Stein stressed that “surrender by Japan would be a demonstration of weakness and a precedent which would inevitably invite further and more damaging demands. The oil-producing states have been quick to alter their policies once they met determined and resolute opposition. The time for expressing that concerted opposition is now.”

The Japanese Ambassador replied that his country did not want to antagonize the American people or the Jewish community. He said he realized “how much your people have contributed to U.S.-Japanese trade.” He stated that the purpose of the statement by the Japanese Cabinet was “to make our position clear. We have no intention of surrender. Our purpose was to reiterate our support for UN Resolution 242.” The envoy conceded that Japan was under “all possible pressure” to impose economic sanctions or break diplomatic relations with Israel. “We hope both sides will make much progress toward a just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” he said, adding, “We have not changed our basic position and we hope it will not be necessary.”

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